Fads or farriers?

- Article by Jonathan Oehm

Having been a farrier for quite a few years now, I have seen a number of re-invented shoes, shoeing methods, and products marketed as “cure-alls” to make up for the lack of training in proper techniques for farriers and poor management from horse owners.

For good and prolonged sporting performance the basic concept of quality care, training and management is needed, but in the higher levels of sports, injuries occur more frequently, so owners and farriers that have bypassed the previous concepts start looking for all sorts of so-called fixes to cope with these pressures.

More specifically in the farriery trade manufacturers have not been slow in responding to these demands. Every farrier supply store is full of pads, pours, acrylics, polyurethanes, dressings, clips and wing wongs to fix every created problem there is.

How many new styles of so called new methods, cytek, strasser, NB, Hi performance trimming, homeopathic podiatry, (seems to me these ones need to spend more time mastering the trade rather than the language) have you seen claiming to cure all problems from laminitis and navicular, to ulcers and heart disease ?? Look at the example of a farrier nailing a way too small a section shoe onto a larger footed horse because they don’t have the tools or more importantly the skill to forge the shoes hot. When this is done the nailing is too fine and this will cause crumbly, weak walls. Is this a problem? No, of course not. There are plenty of adhesives and resins available to patch this problem. Where is the limit to these quick fix solutions?

These products were designed to be used for emergencies not as everyday shoeing practices. They are a wonderful resource to have when all goes bad.

There never seems to be any talk about preventing these problems. Besides, if these products such as heart bars must be used routinely, we must ask if the horse is fit for the intended purpose.

If we must put a square toe shoe onto a horse to stop it forging, creating a square foot, there is a problem – be it the farrier, training or riding, so be it.( If the cap fits wear it, if it doesn’t, I’m not talking to you!). If horses were meant to have square feet then the creator would have beaten us to it!

Farriery is both science and art, and is bloody hard to do well. Some farriers, vets, chiropractors, trainers etc think they know it all, but I think that no-one can claim that distinction.

Why is our work is critiqued by people who have never done the job?

Lots of pseudo-professionals claim that they can turn a ford into a Ferrari and heaps of people believe them. However, the Ferrari is in for tuning more often than the ford. The same can be said for performance horses. We need to harmonise professional carers before there is an injury, not just looking for stop-gap solutions after there is a break of any kind.

Another problem that I see is shoes etc that are there to perform a function becoming a fashion trend. I was once asked for 3 inch wedged aluminium egg bars on all four feet because one of Anky’s horses had them on! That person only got her horse shod every 8-10 week, if she remembered. What good is an egg bar if it has disappeared into the heels after five weeks?

Situations involving people with little knowledge or lots of perceived knowledge seem to be happening more and more. It is my hope that these wonderful animals are treated with respect and knowledge and that absurd trade and sport practices will not gain the upper hand.

We need to make sure that there are true specialists in their area who have skill, common sense and a true love of horses so that the horses and the owners can benefit.

White Line Disease

- Article by Michael Wildenstein (CJ, FWCF)


HOOF BALANCE - Theories, rules and laws

- Article by DAVID W. GILL (AFCL)


What qualifies us as Professionals?

Article by Matt Gillis, CJF

When you ask a farrier what he or she does for a living, some will answer, “I shoe horses” others respond, “I am a horseshoer or a blacksmith” and some choose to say, “I am a professional farrier”.

Just what should we call ourselves?

When I started in the trade, I became a horseshoer. As I started to trim the horse’s so that they were balances and the horses were sound, I became a farrier. When I Made some fire pokers or a snake out of a rasp, I thought that I was a blacksmith. The fact is, no matter what I called myself, I wasn’t a true professional at any of those endeavors. It’s been said that, just like professional athletes, farriers become professionals when they make it a livelihood. I would disagree.

Being professional is more than just making a living in your trade. It’s knowing your job and working with proficiency, owning your skills with good client relations and most importantly sound horses. Only then do we become professional.

Webster’s Dictionary describes “profession” this way: “A calling requiring specialized knowledge and long and intensive academic preparation.” (how many farriers do you know have this??)

“Professionalism” is described this way: “The conduct, aims, or quality that characterizes or marks a profession or a professional person.” In other words, you have to behave professionally in order to call yourself a professional.

I have heard some really classic statements from so-called professional farriers in my time – such as, “eight nails will level any shoe” or how about, “so I’ve driven a hot nail or cut him a little short – everyone does” or, “oh, I was supposed to be here last Tuesday, I thought you meant next Tuesday” and what about, “My shoeing ain’t any worse than anybody else’s”.

Unfortunately, all of these excuses came from people who called themselves professional farriers.

Let’s ask ourselves some questions about the way we conduct our business. Would it be professional to do the following?

  • Return phone calls even if you knew it may be uncomfortable, or you know you can’t or simply don’t want to work for that individual?
  • Arrive on the time agreed upon?
  • Listen and pay attention to what the client has to say about the horse?
  • Have the proper skills and knowledge to do the work in an efficient manner?
  • Have the tools, materials, and equipment to do the work?
  • Consult with someone when you really don’t know how to remedy a problem?
  • Participate in an ongoing educational programs to keep abreast of the latest technology and products?
  • Charge a price equal to your skills?
This is a short list of what it takes to work in a professional manner. It seems easy to comply with these simple rules, but, if it is such an easy task, why do so many people shoeing horses today have trouble doing it? We have all found ourselves locked in our own world, seeing only our own work. When we look at our best shoeing, we feel it is the best that can be done. After all, our clients don’t complain, and we seem to be making a living.

So, who’s to say we’re not professionals? I feel we all have to be humbled occasionally for no other reason than to discover that we have lots of room for improvement.
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